The loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle nesting season is May through October. Nesting occurs on the beaches of North Carolina’s barrier islands. From May to mid-August, loggerheads come ashore to deposit approximately 120 eggs in a nest cavity in the dry sand dune system.
Sixty days later, loggerhead hatchlings emerge from the nest at night and head to the ocean. Nests hatch from July through the end of October.
During the nesting season, loggerheads may be disoriented by artificial lights. A disorientation event occurs when artificial light from man-made sources leads turtles away from the ocean. The causes of these disorientations include streetlights, gas station hood lights, city sky glow, exterior lights on commercial establishments, high density dwellings and beach front homes, including pool lights. People on or near the beach carrying flashlights or lanterns, bonfires, and landscape lighting can also disorient loggerhead hatchlings.
To Learn More, see this helpful Sea Turtle Video LINKED HERE.
You can help the turtles by following a few simple guidelines:
Please Report all sightings of sea turtles, dead turtles, unmarked turtle nests or footprint crawls (looks like a bulldozer came out of the water) to Sunset Beach Turtle Help organization: 910-579-5862 (Hint: put this phone number in your cellphone now, before you get to beach).
Do Not Disturb: If you see an adult sea turtle coming on shore, stay quiet and keep your distance! Otherwise she may get scared and go back into the ocean without nesting. They are an endangered species and it is a federal offense to harass them.
Turn Off All Flashlights! Lights may scare or confuse the turtle and cause her to leave without nesting (also “harassment”).
Lights Cause Hatchlings To Go In the Wrong Direction: Please turn off all outside lights each night. Also if there are curtains or blinds use them so your indoor lights do not lead the hatchlings away from the ocean.
Never Pick Up A Hatchling. It is critical that they crawl on their own to imprint this beach for later breeding/nesting.
Do Not Disturb The Nest Area. Watch for the nest markers and avoid them.
Stay Off Sand Dunes & Do Not Pick Sea Oats. Sand dunes provide critical habitat for sea turtles and help prevent flooding during times of extreme tides and storms. Foot traffic kills plants and severely damages the sand dunes. The penalty is $100 fine.
Help Us Keep Our Beaches Clean -Sea turtles may mistake a plastic bag or litter for jellyfish (they eat them). Also all personal items and equipment must be removed from the beach each day- these items may trap a sea turtle or scare her off.
Please Fill In All Holes On The Beach When Done Playing.- Holes can trap sea turtles AND are a safety hazard to humans.
Keep Dogs On Leashes At All Times – Dogs scare turtles. No dogs shall be permitted on the beach strand between 8am and 6pm between Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. All dogs must be on 10-ft or shorter leash at all times, all year.
Fireworks can scare off nesting sea turtles and leave behind trash that may be mistaken for food. NOTE: Discharge of fireworks is illegal per North Carolina state laws.
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